SUBSCRIBE NOW
Only $39 for one year.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
Only $39 for one year.

Navarre grad rises from Single-A to Washington Nationals roster in just over a year

Brian Achatz
Pensacola News Journal
Northwest Florida Daily News

Navarre High’s most prestigious baseball graduate is on to the big leagues.

Just more than one year after Matt Cronin was selected in the MLB Draft, he’s launched from Single-A baseball with the Hagerstown Suns up to the 60-man Major League roster for the Washington Nationals.

RELATED: (2019) Navarre’s Cronin returns to CWS with goal of winning it all

“It’s exciting and a good feeling to know that the club thinks that highly of me,” said the Navarre High Class of 2016 graduate. “Hopefully this has me on a fast track to the big league and I can stay there.”

RELATED: (June 2019) Navarre’s Cronin drafted in 4th round

Cronin said his one-year journey through Minor League Baseball was an adjustment, going from feeling like a king playing SEC baseball at Arkansas to starting from the bottom again. He excelled at Single-A Hagerstown, pitching 22 innings during the 2019 season with 41 strikeouts and a 0.89 ERA.

RELATED: (2016) All-Area Baseball: Navarre’s Cronin named Large Schools Pitcher of the Year for second straight year

“It’s a big adjustment and it’s not easy for everybody,” Cronin said. “Some of my college teammates that got drafted a year or two before me told me that minor league can be tough, riding on the bus for eight hours at a time. But I’m used to being on the road and sleeping in the car traveling for baseball. I just like playing baseball. If I got to ride for eight hours to play, that’s what I’m going to do.”

MLB has an adjusted 60-game season planned for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the plan for teams to begin play either July 23 or 24.

Cronin arrived in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and will begin training Friday.

Cronin’s three-year career at Arkansas yielded a 2.80 ERA with 130 strikeouts and 40 walks in 93 innings of work.

He was the 2015 PNJ Pitcher of the Year as a junior at Navarre, finishing with a 4-1 record, 1.73 ERA and 141 strikeouts.

Navarre Athletic Director Scott Murphy coached baseball during Cronin’s time as a Raider and said the two keep in touch with text messages, mostly about life with occasional baseball discussion.

“Matt does have the ability to succeed at that level,” Murphy said. “Watching him in college, he was playing against some great teams that were probably as good as the minor league teams he faced. He’s always had the ability, work ethic and determination. I think all he needs is a chance and he will find a way to make a name for himself.”

Brian Achatz can be reached at bachatz@pnj.com.